Fabu Less

Across the globe, people are asserting their right to be fabulous. Casting off past austerity, they embrace a new-found democratic optimism, using play, humor and resourcefulness to celebrate the everyday.

Last Updated October 24, 2013


Is anyone who spends significant time online (for work or otherwise) unaware of the charms of GIFs? They’re elegant visual one-liners, able to emote or simply entertain for a few seconds at a time, and often little more than an endless repetition of a moment of slapstick. But just as programmatically simple jokes can provide a platform for insightful satire and blazing feats of imagination – check into Wyatt Cenac’s comedy, for a recent example – so GIFs have evolved, in the process becoming considered worthy vehicles for high art. Rhizome, a hotbed of digital creativity, has recently posted a series of artworks specifically created as GIFs.    

Visit Rhizome to see the GIFs in all their low-res glory, and don’t miss Wyatt Cenac

Rainbow Sprinkles

This art installation by Dutch artist Edwin Deen combines two hallmarks of summer -- lawn sprinklers and rainbows -- into a single, wonderful thing. Brilliantly simple in its construction, the rainbow sprayer pumps water through a series of pigments to glam up any surface in seconds, but it’s currently confined to a single room, at the W hotel in Amsterdam.

Find more images of the sprayer in action at Colossal.

Practical Facts, Rendered Useless

Writer Josh Orter confesses to a habit of figuring out things of little practical value, although his website Stupid Calculation’s tagline, “Where practical facts get rendered into utterly useless ones,” seem to have it the other way around. In either case, Orter has applied his talents to visual and mathematical explanations of the number of BTUs expressed by 638,000 matches, how long it would take to drink a Olympic-sized swimming pool through a straw (gross) and how many iPhones you'd need to cover every square inch of Central Park in New York City. Wait a minute, you say, that last one sounds fairly straightforward... except Orter took the size variation across the various iPhone models into account, and weighed his figures for their market share, according to current statistics.   

More (useless) inquiries and visual explanations at Stupid Calculations.

Tiny Sad Keanu

A few years back, a candid photo of Keanu Reeves eating lunch on a park bench went viral, spawning hundreds of “Sad Keanu” images, with the former Matrix star Photoshopped into movie stills, band photos and recent news events. Now, Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal has taken it a step further, ordering a 3D print of Sad Keanu from an online fabricator, and creating his own photo series. The results are both silly and jarring, drawing on the familiarity of the existing meme as well as the new oddness made possible through rapid prototyping. What’s still undecided: is it funnier to see a picture of Keanu sitting next to Harry Potter, or a tiny sculpture of Keanu sitting on a sandwich? 

Read about Madrigal’s project on The Atlantic and browse the “old" Sad Keanu Tumblr for context.

Retiring Early, for One Year

Renowned graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister earned the attention of millions with a 2009 TED talk espousing the virtues of year-long sabbaticals. Recently, a 40-year-old software developer name Winston Chen decided to take up the challenge, moving with his entire family to an island off the Norwegian coast to fish, hike and watch the Northern Lights. Rather than depict the relocation as an escape from the rat race, Chen and his wife Kristen describe it as simply a chance to do something different and learn some new skills. It appears to have been a success: not only have they posted some extraordinary photos of the starkly beautiful landscape, but an iPhone app Chen coded during the long Arctic nights is now selling robustly enough to support them on their return to Boston.

NPR has the story, and TED has the video that started it all.

The Real Space Oddity

Commander Chris Hadfield has had his share of YouTube fame, with compelling videos that illustrate moments of zero-gravity life inside the International Space Station. His latest effort has attracted much wider notice: it’s a lovingly produced cover of the 1969 David Bowie hit “Space Oddity.” Hadfield’s singing and acoustic-guitar work are nothing to sneeze at, but the cinematography really shines. He leverages the station’s lack of gravity and stunning views of Earth, realizing shots that might make even the fabulous Mr. Bowie jealous. The original “Space Oddity” was scheduled to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon landing, 44 years ago; seeing the song performed in orbit was worth the wait. 

Watch the video at Space.

Kickstart These Coffee Grounds

It seems most creative types drink a fair amount of coffee; we certainly do, here at Ziba. Designer Matthew Waldman wanted to bring some intention to all the grounds that are inevitably produced along the way to optimal caffeination, and the result is POTHRA. A biodegradable corn-based resin is mixed with used coffee grounds and set in silicone molds, yielding sturdy terra cotta-like pots for plants or pencils. The tactile and chromatic results vary, depending on the type of coffee being used–espresso roast makes for smooth, chocolate brown pots, while a blonde ground for a french press presents as a nubby burnt-sienna vessel. 

Visit Kickstarter to get POTHRA off the ground! 

A Notebook for the Undecided

Notebooks are one of those things that everyone seems to have an opinion about -- some of us carry a Moleskine while others prefer gridded notepads or just jot everything on Post-its. Japanese firm Rezon is taking a more holistic stance, combining six different notebook types into a single Multi-Notebook, for those who’d rather match the format with the task. Each page presents notetakers with a range of options, including notecards and sticky notes that can be torn out; the cover communicates the buffet of options through a clever collage of familiar styles.

Read about the Multi-Notebook at The Fox is Black, or visit theRezon website and order your own.

Imaginations Running Wild. Also Jumping, Swimming and Skateboarding.

Having Muscular Dystrophy means that many physical activities we might associate with an active childhood are off limits. For a 12-year-old Croatian boy named Luka and photographer Matej Peljhan, that’s just a worthy challenge for their collective imaginations. The two recently collaborated on a photo series called The Little Prince, in which Luka poses lying down for Peljhan’s overhead camera, in positions that evoke skateboarding, swimming and a host of other pursuits usually denied by gravity and MD. The results are awesomely clever, and deeply touching.

Read more about The Little Prince project at PetaPixel, and see more of Pehjhan’s work on his portfolio site.

The 15-pound, $36 Plastic Wedding Dress

Australian fashion designer Stephanie Watson had known for a long time she didn’t want a traditional wedding dress. Ten years, in fact, which is how long it took to save the roughly 10,000 plastic bread bag clips she sewed to create her dress over the course of 300 hours. The groom’s cousin, a baker, kicked in an entire sleeve of unused clips, when it looked like Watson might run short. This is an idea in good company – wedding dresses have been made from toilet paper and bubble wrap, in the past, and evening gowns from credit cards. Watson’s effort transforms about $36 worth of disposable plastic into something entirely unique and compelling. 

Read more about Nadine – that’s the dress’s name – at Treehugger